About 60% of Americans receive health insurance through their employers. Employers should continue to be the platform on which health benefits are provided in America, according to the American Benefits Council. In its report, Condition Critical: Ten Prescriptions for Reforming Health Care Quality, Cost and Coverage, the Council offers ten maxims it believes will bolster a sustainable health system.

ABC is an association of Fortune 500 companies and others that sponsor or provide services to health plans. Together, they represent over 100 million Americans.

The 10 “prescriptions” include:
  1. Building on existing, voluntary employer-based health coverage.
  2. Maintain a Federal framework – a single set of federal rules and not a state-by-state approach — and ERISA.
  3. Improve quality and efficiency enabled by a national health information backbone.
  4. Provide reliable information to consumers and providers for decision making and clinical benchmarking.
  5. Mandate individuals to obtain a basic level of coverage, providing premium subsidies where individuals need them.
  6. Establish a minimum standard for a basic health plan.
  7. Reform the individual insurance market based on Federal minimum coverage requires or in “enhanced and affordable” state risk pools.
  8. Strengthen State safety-net health insurance programs.
  9. Improve tax policy to make health coverage more affordable and accessible – which means to continue tax rules for employers to deduct the cost of health benefits provided to employees.
  10. Allow an ‘above-the-line’ tax deduction for employers who provide retiree health benefits.

ABC’s recommendations stem in part from the National Business Group of Health’s survey finding that three in four employees considered the health plan to be the most important employment benefit; 95% of employers consider health benefits to be “very important.”

Health Populi’s Hot Points: “The most important prescription for health reform may well be the willingness of all major stakeholder groups to engage in a collaborative effort to develop health reform solutions,” ABC concludes in the report.

Building on the current employer-based system is something Tom Daschle, Team Obama’s point-man on health care, says he’d like to do in his book, Critical.

Daschle recommends a Federal Health Board to set rules for expanding coverage and recommending treatments based on evidence. There would be an individual individual mandate for coverage for individuals without health insurance with subsidies for those people who fall below set income levels.

On its face, the ABC’s employer-based plan sounds consistent with Daschle’s outlines in Critical. Employer stakeholders are in line to engage with the Obama Administration in reforming the U.S. health system. As always, the collaborative effort envisioned by ABC will be driven by the devil in the ultimate details.